Rees Pugh (b1861)

His life can be followed from census entries and the family bible and other information given to me by Aled Pugh. Rees and his wife Margaret produced 14 children, who went on to live colourful lives. His children by and large escaped the confines of valley and quarry life by either
joining the clergy (Hugh S Pugh went to America as an evangelist, Morris became a vicar in Angelsey, and Tommy who was a larger than life figure became queen's chaplain, associate to Billy Graham the evangelist and also Billy Butlin of 'good morning campers' fame and did heroic deeds in the liberation of Singapore) or the teaching profession, or the civil service as a means to meritocratic improvement, or in the case of Evan in commerce.

Hillsborough Terrace, Upper Corris

1861 Rees Pugh was born 3 Jan 1861(family bible from Aled Pugh) while his parents were living at Hillsborough, Upper Corris, and baptised at Saint Mary Church, Dolgellau, on 29 May 1861. Oddly there is no record of his birth in the government records. One gets a fairly complete picture of his life from putting together all the census information on him. And the map below enables one to see how he moved from place to place. The tree above shows his siblings and his children, and below the map is a biography of his life. He appears in the family in the 1861 census as aged 2 months.

1870 On the 26th October 1870 Rees Thomas, his maternal grandfather, died at Fron Yw, Dolgellau, aged 77.  In his will he left the freehold property to his daughters, Catherine and Mary, during their lifetime and then to his grandson Rees Pugh.  It is strange that Rees was singled out in the family for this legacy. He also stipulated that should one of the daughters get married then the one remaining single could continue to live at Fron Yw if she so wished for an annual payment to her sister of 3.  He left his Cambrian Railway share to Rees Pugh.  The executor of the will was Rees Thomas's son-in-law Evan Roberts, the husband of Sarah Thomas.  He was a Welsh Presbyterian minister and at the time they lived in 10 Western Road in Handsworth near Birmingham.   

The places they lived in Merionethshire
Rees Pugh b1861 and his wife Margaret Jenkins

1871 census living at with his parents at Pandyisaf, Garthgynfawr 1 miles E of Dolgellau Cited being born at at Llanelltyd, Merionethshire. Pandyisaf is is a most attractive house on the banks of the River Wnion and is just downstream of the lower end of the Torrent Walk at Dolgellau. At present it is the home of the owner of the nearby holiday caravan site.

1881 census shows him as a slate quarrier, living at Hillsborough, Upper Corris with his parents Evan & Jane Pugh

In 1885 Rees’s father, Evan Pugh died aged 58, in the The Peniarth Arms, Llanfihangel y pennant, a small inn that the Pugh family had moved to around 1881 and whilst it is a private dwelling today, it is still owned by a Pugh descendant. When I visited it in 2008 they were in residence, but not very welcoming.

He must have gone to Ffestiniog about this time, to work in the quarries there, in order to have met his future wife Margaret Ann Jenkins. It is difficult to find the reason for his moving to Ffestiniog, as the production and employment figures of his local Bryneglwys Slate Quarry, for 1885 to 1888 are high by the quarries normal standards.

1888 Rees was a slate miner and married, in Ffestiniog, Margaret Ann Jenkins on 24th October 1888 (marriage certificate). Margaret Jenkins came from Diphwys Terrace, Ffestiniog and Rees Pugh from the Peniarth Arms, Llanfihangel-y-Pennant.

Rees’s mother Jane remained at Peniarth Arms until 1904. Margaret and her mother in law Jane Pugh are shown pictured below.

Margaret Ann Jenkins is shown here as "wife of Rees Pugh" with her mother-in-law Jane Pugh

1888 to 1890 he lived in Ffestiniog. Rees Pugh having married Margaret Ann Jenkins from Ffestiniog in 1888, their first children were born in Ffestiniog (slate mining) with Ivor born 23 Dec 1888 just 2 months after their wedding (living at Diffwys Terrace, Blaenau Ffestiniog) and Hugh born 19 Mar 1890 (living at 1 Offeren Cottage, Blaenau Ffestiniog) .

1890 to 1893 Treharis in South Wales. They then moved south as he tried his luck in Treharris the southern Welsh coal fields. The stay in the southern Welsh coal mining valleys did not last long. They are recorded here at 19 Penn St,Treharris in the 1891 census, and his occupation is collier. Their next child Rees was also born in Treharris in 30 Nov 1891 (they were now living at 16 Mary St, Treharris).

The census shows also in 19 Penn Street was 29 year old John Jenkins, wife Mary (nee Jones), also 29, and children Emily aged 3 and Morris, 14 months. John was Margaret Ann's brother and the eldest of the Jenkins children. John and Mair - from Llan Ffestiniog - had been married in Ffestiniog. Both Mair and Emily had been born in Ffestiniog but not Morris (born Treharris). John's occupation is given as 'collier' - as is Rees - but the Jenkins family subsequently moved to Tredegar where John was to become a 'house painter', like his father Thomas Jenkins. John died, and was buried on Christmas Eve 1921, in Tredegar and some of his descendants still live there.The Penn Street house had probably 3 bedrooms and there were a lot of people living in the house. There were 4 in the Jenkins family, 4 in the Rees Pugh family, plus 4 lodgers.

A few hundred yards from 19 Penn Street is 16 Mary Street where Rees, son of Rees and Margaret Pugh, was born in November 1891.

Pandy Square, Abergynolwyn

1893.They had settled in Abergynolwyn as 23 Jan 1893 they were living at Pandy Sq when Ivor aged 5y 2m was admitted to Abergynolwyn School. And another child Jane was born on 20 Nov 1893, and they were still living at Pandy Square. And a few days later on 27 Nov 1893 Hugh, aged 3y 8m was admitted to Abergynolwyn School.

1895 admission of Rees, aged 3y 4m on 30 Sep 1895 to Abergynolwyn School

Abergynolwyn Church Quarry area above Abergynolwyn
Overlooking Abergynolwyn Cottages in Pandy Square

1896 Their son Evan Pugh was born on the 15th February 1896 at Pandy Square, Abergynolwyn to Rees Pugh and Margaret Jenkins.

1897 Jane, aged 3y 5m admitted to Abergynolwyn School on 13 Apr 1897. They are still at Pandy Square

1898 Elizabeth born 11 Feb 1898 at Pandy Square.

1899 School admission of Evan, aged 3y 1m on 29 Apr 1899. Living at Pandy Square.

1900 Richard born 15 Mar 1900 at 20 Llanegryn Street

They then brought up their family at 20 Llanegryn Street Abergynolwyn which was a single story terrace with only two bedrooms. This would have been cramped with 9 people in 1901, and later on up to 16 in the family would have lived in these two rooms. They stay here till early 1907.

House next door to 20 Llanegryn St, which has not has modern porch added

1901 Census Street address is given as 20 Llanegryn Street Abergynolwyn. Rees Pugh 40 born Corris, Merionethshire is living there with his wife Margaret A, 31 born Llangollen, Denbighshire and 7 children. Ivor (born 1889 at Ffestiniog, Merionethshire), Hugh Silvannus (born1890 at Ffestiniog, Merionethshire), Rees T ( born 1891 at Treharris, Glamorgan ), Jane (born 1894 Ffestiniog, Merionethshire), Evan ( born 1896 at Abergynolwyn, Merionethshire) , Elizabeth (born 1898 Ffestiniog, Merionethshire) and Richard James (born Ffestiniog, Merionethshire 1900).

1901 Morris Edwin born 25 Nov 1901 at 20 Llanegryn Street. Also 20 December 1901 Ivor, 12y 4m, leaves school for Quarry with labour certificate.

1903 Thomas Jenkins born 15 Nov 1903 at 20 Llanegryn Street. Also in June 1903 Hugh, 13y3m, leaves school for Quarry with labour certificate.

1904 Rees, 12y 10m, leaves school for Quarry with labour certificate on 16 Sep 1904

Idwal born 28 Oct 1905. And died 23 Mar 1908 and buried in the churchyard at Llanfihangel y pennant.

1906 the family bible records 25 Nov 1906 the birth of twin sisters, Margaret and Winifred born on the 25th Nov 1906, sadly Margaret died on the 13th Dec 1906 and Winifred died on the 18th April 1907. Both girls buried buried in the churchyard at Llanfihangel y pennant.

1908 Margaret Winifred born 9 May 1908 and their home has now changed to 3 Water Street. Up to 13 Dec 1906 they still are at 20 Llanegryn Street

1909 Sarah Ellen born 28 Aug 1909 at 3 Water Street

1909 on 23 Nov 1909 Evan, 12y 4m, leaves school with labour certificate.

Bryn Eglwys ceased production in 1909 because due to the quarrying of all the best rock and the lack of capital investment for many years it was in decline. On 17th December 1909 the men were told that the quarry was to close the next day. The remaining stocks were sent down the railway, and the machinery began to be dismantled.

1911 Apr 2. census He is a boarder at 4 Phyllis Street, Troedyrhiw, Glamorgan . Timberman in colliery. brother David John also resident.

1914 on 3 Mar 1914 Richard of 3 Water Street Richard, 14y, leaves school for Quarry:

1915 on 10 May 1915 Morris E of 3 Water Street, 13y 6m, leaves school with labour certificate, ‘Apprenticed as a Grocer’

1917 on 8 Apr 1917 Thomas J of 3 Water Street aged 13y 5m, leaves school for Quarry

1920 on 2 Mar 1920 Move from Abergynolwyn to 11 Park Square, Blaenau Ffestiniog. School record shows Margaret, 12y 2m, & Sarah, 10y 7m, leave school for Blaenau Ffestiniog.

1932, at the time of their deaths, they were still living at Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Rees Pugh Rees of 11 Park Square Blaenau Ffestiniog Merionethshire died 1 Dec 1932. Administration Bangor 2 February to Morris Edwin Pugh student. Effects £64.10s

Margaret Ann was ill on the day of her husband Rees's funeral and watched from her bedroom window the coffin’s departure from 11 Park Square, Blaenau Ffestiniog. She waved and said she would be following him soon. After the funeral the family assembled in her bedroom where she took the funeral service and there was defiance in her voice on saying: "Death, where is thy sting? Grave, where is thy victory?" She recited by heart the long chapter that was part of the service. A week later Margaret Ann died and eleven days after Rees was buried she joined him in the Llan Ffestiniog grave. On the gravestone is the inscription 'Hunant mewn hedd' 'They sleep in peace'

Margaret Ann Pugh of 11 Park Square Blaenau Ffestiniog, a widow died 13 December 1932. Administration Bangor 23 January to Morris Edwin Pugh student. Effects £54.10s

The Rhedegydd reported on December 15, 1932

NO SEPARATION IN DEATH - Tuesday morning, within a week to the day of burying her husband, of whom she took the utmost care to the end, the death occurred of Mrs Rhys Pugh, 11 Park Square, at the age of 62 years old. This blow was very unexpected by the family. We sympathise with them in their grief and loss. We shall have more details next week.

and on December 22, 1932 The Rhedegydd adds

FUNERAL - We referred last week to the death of Mrs Rhys Pugh, 11 Park Square, that occurred within a week of burying her husband, on whom she attended for over five years. Her funeral was last Friday when she was laid to rest with her husband in Llan Ffestiniog cemetery. The service was taken by the Rev. J Hughes Jones, Vicar St David's, Rev. H E Hughes, Blaenau Ffestiniog, and Rev. Benson Davies, Ffestiniog. The chief mourners were the Rev. Ivor Pugh, Darwen, Mr and Mrs Rees T Pugh, Mr and Mrs A B Jarvis, Mr and Mrs Evan Pugh, Mr and Mrs C Jones Mr and Mrs Richard J Pugh, Mr Morris E Pugh, the Rev.T Jenkins Pugh, Nottingham, Mrs D T Jones, Mrs B Austin (sons and daughters). Mr and Mrs Job James (sister), Mr Thomas Jenkins (brother), Mrs Robert Pughe (sister in law), Mr Wynne (brother in law), Mr and Mrs Winstanley (niece), Miss Jenny Evans (niece). The duty of bearers was undertaken by Rees Watkins, Mr Pritchard (churchwarden), Mr A B Jarvis, Mr Charlie Jones. The arrangements were under the care of the Deputy Chief Constable J F Evans. We sympathise with the family in their repeated tribulations.

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